Tag: Video Games

Jason wrote a fanfic

Jason wrote a fanfic

I have been playing a LOT of Stardew Valley over the last week.

For those uninitiated members of the audience, Stardew Valley is an independent farming/life simulation game in the same vein of Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing that came out in 2016 to critical and audience acclaim.

Well-deserved acclaim at that. This is a title with some incredible pixel art design, a treasure trove of content and enough charm to reduce your Pikachu’s attack by six stages — all made by one person, ConcernedApe.

That was a Pokémon joke by the way. *marks off checklist*

I bought the game alongside my friend Samantha, who was one of my close friends to recommend it years ago when I had no time to join the fad.

We’ve gone through cycles of playing different co-operative games together in the past. From brief stints with Don’t Starve Together to an innocuous MMORPG called Aura Kingdom, as well as hundreds of hours invested in Terraria just a few summers before she moved away.

This time The Dream Team reunited for the multiplayer update to Stardew that dropped for Switch last December.

Unfortunately she’s been a little more busy with work so far this summer, and we haven’t gotten the chance to play a lot. But I started my own single-player file to learn the basics so I wouldn’t be a complete disgrace.

I fell into the game hard. I’ve been up playing until 3:00 a.m. a few more times in the last week than I’d care to admit.

Originally I intended to write a review of the game for my blog to justify all the hours I’ve poured in. But I’m three years late to the party and everything I could say has already been said.

Plus it would more or less just be hundreds of words gushing about what a mastahpiece it is, and that can’t be very exciting for a three-year-old game.

You can honestly judge for yourself based solely on the trailer:

However, something strange happened with this game.

Even though I resigned myself not to write a review, a totally different craving bore its way out of my subconscious mind after watching my single-player character get married to my Stardew love, Emily.

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Ain’t they the cutest?

There was a particular string of events and cutscenes leading up to the marriage that I thought flowed together like an unintentionally beautiful story…

And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

My blood ached with the desire to show my adoration for the game by doing what I do best: Writing.

The other day I announce my intention to ruin my credibility by writing a Stardew Valley fanfiction, totally abandoning my original book for an afternoon to use digital ink on flourishing personal video game experiences instead.

I may or may not have managed to pound out 6,000 words.

Sometimes you just have to strike when the iron is hot. Writing is writing.

My blog post fell to the wayside as a result, but I think you’ll find it was a worthwhile sacrifice.

My quick turn-around on the fanfiction meant I was able to get it briefly edited by Mom (who I’m sure is now ashamed of that college degree [NEVAH- mom]) and posted online at fanfiction.net.

Even though the website’s posting rules meant I had to wait an extra day to get this post to you.

I’ve never used the site before, as most of my character-writing impulses have been expended via brief roleplays.

The only time I recall writing a legitimate fanfiction was a very short scene between Alela Grora and Wodahs from The Grey Garden for Sam, who also introduced me to that pseudo-visual novel RPG.

Talk about another title I’ll need to dedicate a whole post to. A particular bad end in that game haunts me to this day.

All of that is to say you get to be the lucky audience who sees my debut piece of fanfiction not counting Wattpad.

It’s pretty heavily focused on recreating scenes from the game to convey a budding romance in a grander fashion. So if you’re into that sort of thing, check it out here!

I’m past the point of shame, so there’s a genuine curiosity to know what you think.

Regardless of your thoughts, I will say the exercise was a nice break from my novel that kept me in an invigorated fiction-writing mood.

Can’t complain about that right?

Roaming the Mad God’s Realm

Roaming the Mad God’s Realm

Time to pull my head out of Stardew Valley and make good on the potential of my new laptop.

Let’s talk about Realm of the Mad God.

RotMG is a browser-based MMORPG of sorts developed by the independent Wild Shadow Studios and bought by Deca Games in 2016.

It has the multiple servers, raid battles and virtual economy you would expect out of titles like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV.

But in terms of gameplay it’s a free-roaming bullet hell similar to Enter the Gungeon.

Just more stylistically and mechanically simple.

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It’s a game that has been around since 2010.

Patches and balance updates have been constant throughout the game’s nine years, as recent as May 9, 2019. But looking through RotMG’s update history on its curated RealmEye forum shows a particularly interesting early life.

Around 2011 you can see the game launch servers for different regions worldwide, and in February 2012 a stand-alone client was released on Steam that can be used in conjunction with the browser version.

Plus some cool moments like a charity event for Hurricane Sandy relief in late 2012.

I can’t tell you exactly when I first played RotMG but it was undoubtedly early on in the game’s lifecycle. Probably around the same time as I was playing tower defense flash games on Addicting Games — which is honestly a post for another day.

Recently I had a craving to pick up the game again, and found that many things were the same despite its scope growing wildly.

Now I’m sure you must be asking, “how exactly does RotMG work?”

After you make an account, first you pick a class.

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And by that I mean you start with Wizard and have to unlock everyone else. More classes are unlocked as you reach level milestones, such as the Priest coming when Wizard reaches level 5.

With a character in tow you choose a realm to explore out of the Nexus hub world.

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Within each realm you encounter hordes of monsters based on fantasy creatures and tropes led by a larger boss variant.

Or… Not so fantasy creatures. Like this Sumo Master and his minions.

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Though they are the exception to the rule.

Sometimes a boss monster has multiple phases when damaged.

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In case you couldn’t tell, I really like the Sumo Master. He stands out in the best way.

Occasionally a monster will drop the entrance to a stand-alone dungeon on top of their typical loot.

These little mazes have a major boss at the end that will usually drop a couple pieces of loot.

Now would probably be a good time to discuss gameplay specifics so you can understand the loot system.

RotMG is simple to play. You move with WASD, aim and shoot with the mouse and use a special attack with spacebar.

That’s it.

Every class uses different weapons, special items and armor alongside a few overlapping items like rings with universal effects like raising health.

Characters are balanced for different play styles. Archers can shoot up to three arrows at once, making them more offensive than the Priest with one slow shot. However, the Priest’s special attack is a local heal that can buff allies.

Yet none of them have armor that compares to the Warrior.

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My slightly more open character roster.

Loot drops are the only way to improve your character’s weapon and armor without resorting to microtransactions, but enemies are just as likely to drop goods for a different class.

Killing monsters will level your character up to 20, at which point you start accruing “fame.” Whenever they die (because there is Permadeath in RotMG), fame is tallied up for a system where each class can earn up to five achievement stars.

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RIP Wizard…

As far as I’m aware the stars are purely a status symbol, though fame can be leveraged to do things like start a guild.

That’s about all there is. You fight hordes to level up and gain loot to survive until you can defeat bigger boss enemies on each map, all the while collecting pets and making friends.

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Once all of the Mad God’s “Heroes” are killed, all players in a realm are teleported to the Mad God’s Castle… But so much happens that my game lags until I get kicked out.

So I’ve never personally seen Oryx.

But the game is still incredibly fun in how simple and immediately goal-oriented it is. The art style is charming and design philosophy appeals to my fantasy leanings.

That said, my main problem with RotMG besides its tendency to lag (on browser at least — I’ve never the steam version) is microtransactions.

There are an obnoxious amount of quality of life benefits locked behind currency you need to buy with real money.

If you could purchase these things with fame or obtain coins through grinding, I wouldn’t be so annoyed at the system.

But to be fair, nothing is behind a paywall that impedes gameplay. Even if in-game purchases are more prevalent than I remember.

At least additions like daily log-in bonuses have improved the experience over time.

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Now if only they could add more than one looping music track over every part of the game.

You’ll want to play on mute. Perhaps catch up on GDQ runs in the background.

Music aside, if you’ve never heard of Realm of the Mad God before, I’d recommend checking it out. It’s a free game with a big history on the Internet that’s simple to pick up and try.

If you have heard of it before, let me know! I’d be cool to get some confirmation I’m not the only person in my small sphere of influence that has challenged Oryx.

My thoughts on Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct

My thoughts on Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to 2019’s E3 outside of the surprise Keanu Reeves appearance, but today was Nintendo’s time to shine.

That’s all the introduction you need.

Here’s the 40-minute video. Let’s talk about it.


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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Kicking off the Direct was a flashy cinematic of Ultimate’s World of Light in which Link was rescued by The Hero, our next DLC fighter and Dragon Quest representative.

You’d think that would be the big news. Yet Nintendo had one more trick up their sleeve to conclude the Direct:

Banjo-Kazooie.

I’ve never played a DQ game or Banjo-Kazooie, but I know plenty of people who love those series and I’m happy to see them so happy.

Especially given the love and attention both fighters are getting. The Hero has multiple alternate costumes and a final smash featuring different protagonists from that series, Grant Kirkhope was involved in doing the music for Banjo…

It’s just perfect.

Masahiro Sakurai truly is the king of reviving Nintendo history, and looping in Rare was a great way to include a fighter with die-hard fans who fits in the roster far better than Minecraft Steve or Master Chief.

Great way to bookend the Direct.


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Image courtesy of My Nintendo News

Luigi’s Mansion 3

Subtitle: Hotel Mario 2?

Though I wasn’t a huge a fan of Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon compared to the original, this game looks pretty incredible. It has a creepy atmosphere directly reminiscent of Ghostbusters mixed with a Super Mario Sunshine vacation plot.

And it has built-in Gooigi multiplayer, unlike the shoed-in stuff for the Luigi’s Mansion 3DS remake.

I’m pretty into this game honestly. Especially after seeing this kaiju boss reveal Nintendo put out after the Direct:

It’s just too bad Nintendo has a billion other great games coming out, or Luigi swinging a chair around with a vacuum would be at the top of my list.


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Image courtesy of engaget

Link’s Awakening

Here’s one of those games that unfortunately pushes Luigi’s Mansion aside.

I was incredibly excited for this remake of a Zelda game I’ve always heard praised but never took the time to play when they announced it a few months back.

The new trailer didn’t show too much more than its Sept. 20 release date…

EXCEPT FOR A TOP-DOWN 2D DUNGEON CREATOR.

THE THING I LITERALLY ASKED FOR WHEN I GRADUATED:

Thanks Nintendo, you always make my dreams come true. Just be sure to add Minish Cap into the official Zelda Maker.


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Image courtesy of Nintendo UK

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I wrote a Fire Emblem Heroes post just this morning, so of course I was going to talk about this game.

All we got today was a cinematic trailer that mostly stood out because some character had a sword that turned into a bone whip. Which is fine because we got a big gameplay trailer already.

It mainly featured lore that won’t make a ton of sense until the game releases in…

Wait, late July?

Damn, I thought I had more time. Stop making so many games I want to buy Nintendo, I’m still addicted to Stardew Valley for the next few months!


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Pokémon Sword and Shield

I wasn’t expecting any new Pokémon news after the recent Direct, but Nintendo truly is a benevolent overlord.

During the presentation we found out that the Pokéball peripheral from Let’s Go can act as a modern day Pokéwalker and that the Water-type Gym Leader will be Nessa:

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Image courtesy of Serebii.net

She’s a little derivative of Shelly from Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, but not a bad design at all.

During the Nintendo Treehouse we discovered the existence of a perfect Electric-type pup named Yamper and a little Dark/Fairy gremlin named Impidimp:

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

One of them is God’s perfect child and the other is his greatest mistake.

However, we also found out that not every Pokémon in the National Dex will be compatible with Sword and Shield, which is a step in the wrong direction after Sun and Moon already didn’t have a Pokédex entry for every monster you could collect.

Go check out Serebii’s page, because they have the full list of everything from today.


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Image courtesy of Sonic the Hedgehog on YouTube

Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Then there’s this.

Look I played the first couple Olympic crossover games with my sister and they were decent minigame collections.

But the fact that this series is still going astounds me.

Some of you would probably prefer I put Cadence of Hyrule in this major slot since it looks cool and is only $25 bucks, which definitely entices me to buy the game when it drops this Thursday in spite of never playing Crypt of the Necrodancer.

But… I just did.

So there.


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Image courtesy of Mashable

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Like Reggie Fils-Amie, I put a lot of time into Animal Crossing: New Leaf.

New Horizons not only looks like a wonderful graphical update to the series, but an update that allows for 8-player simultaneous action while potentially building a town from scratch.

That’s… Pretty god damn incredible. Definitely worth pushing the release date to March 2020!

Already Nintendo has me feeling all:

But we’re not done just yet.


The Highlight Reel

The reel always has a billion things, so let’s lightning round what stood out to me.


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Breath of the Wild 2…?

Time to address the elephant in the room.

I made a big deal out of returning to Breath of the Wild. Yet… I didn’t actually finish the whole game.

Turns out I should get moving on that again.

Breath of the Wild is getting a direct sequel, bringing it in-line with Majora’s Mask and the Wind Waker series. A sequel where Link and Zelda are going to be traveling the ravaged Hyrule together and discover some demented shit.

The trailer was just an “in development” teaser, but they sure did succeed in making it emotionally provocative. I’m curious to find out more… Though a lot of that is based on hype from my friends’ speculations.

Which means I guess I have to go finish Breath of the Wild.

Damn you, Nintendo. Quit monopolizing my time when you’re about to monopolize my time with all these new games!


Those were the big ticket items out of this E3 Direct for me, but there were a lot of smaller things that piqued my interest too.

A Final Fantasy Tactics-type game for The Dark Crystal, No More Heroes 3 with weird Star Wars jokes and Gundam fights and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 among them. Plus the Switch is getting the return of Contra, The Witcher 3, Secret of Mana, Resident Evil 5 and 6 and a Panzer Dragoon remake.

Nintendo really knocked it out of the park this year, especially considering the rest of E3 wasn’t phenomenal from what I’ve heard.

Though was there any doubt when they began their Direct by capitalizing on the “Bowser is Nintendo of America’s new president” joke?

All they’re missing is this:

Let me know what you thought of Nintendo’s E3 Direct! What game are you most excited for?


Featured Image courtesy of Nintendo Life

Fire Emblem: Days of Future Past

Fire Emblem: Days of Future Past

Within a few days, Intelligent Systems announced the 3.6.0 Update to Fire Emblem Heroes — which includes “revival banners” for discontinued 5 Star heroes — and this Awakening child unit banner.

Considering the 2019 summer-themed heroes are right around the corner, I have come to the conclusion that the developers just desperately want our wallets.

I can’t help but bemoan the fact that these units are pretty worth the investment despite those incoming banners I’d also like to use.


Summoning Focus: From a Future Past


Part of me hopes this banner is a pseudo-reference to X-Men: Days of Future Past so Fire Emblem can cash in on X-Men: Dark Phoenix being in theaters… Despite the shlock Dark Pheonix turned out to be.

But I digress.

Nah is the headliner for this banner, and a fairly worthwhile one. Oracle’s Breath is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with.

She and Yarne are also some of my favorite child units. Yarne and Morgan are top five Awakening ships for me, so I’m more than willing to pull for him — which is good considering he’s a speedy boi between the Solo, Wave and Galeforce skills.

Kjelle and Brady are less significant characters to me personally and they have weaker skill sets.

But I am a fan of Kjelle and Owain… Despite Owain going to Nohr and becoming Odin, who I ship with Camilla.

I like her with Severa too, yet Severa also goes to Nohr so it’s the same problem.

That returning trio in Fates really screwed up my shipping charts. Hopefully that doesn’t happen in Three Houses.

Also Cynthia is coming soon. I didn’t connect with her in Awakening, but I’ve warmed to her confident demeanor over time.

Her descriptive text in Heroes is a perfect example why:

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Isn’t that amazing?

Luckily there’s a Forging Bonds event to give us some free summon tickets, because that should supplement the orbs out of this story chapter so I can save up for Lute… Or Genny… Or the summer units.


Book III, Chapter 8 — Truth of a Name

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At the start of this chapter, the Order of Heroes continue exploring the destroyed Ask from Chapter 7. They want to find out what happened to it, as that may provide clues on how to stop Hel.

Along the way they encounter Líf twice. The first time he almost kills Alfonse, but is stopped by Sharena.

Don’t worry about that. Foreshadowing.

As is the second encounter where Eir tries to find out what memories were wiped away by her mother.

There are a few bland encounters with Awakening kids that conclude in a library.

The Order discovers that this Askr was destroyed in a future timeline when they teamed up with Embla to enact yet another deus ex machina Rite that makes Hel vulnerable…

At the cost of all the lives in both kingdoms.

Bodes well for whenever Princess Veronica and Loki show up.

After that exposition dump, the final battle features Líf as its boss. Once he is defeated Alfonse goes Sherlock Holmes on our asses and deduces:

Líf has actually been doomed future Alfonse all along! Which means that Thrasir is probably Veronica, both of whom became Hel’s generals after they died trying to stop her.

Feh Plot Meme

So I guess now we get a ‘change the doomed future’ arc.

Fitting set-up for a Chapter that features the Awakening children.


Intelligent Systems just had to schedule this update for the same day as Nintendo’s E3 presentation.

It’s clever. Pick up that search activity.

Unfortunately, staying up late to write this will make me less likely to catch the 9:00 a.m. presentation live. Not that I really mind as the video will be online, so I’m still planning on writing a post about my thoughts on that.

At least Fire Emblem finally pulled my head out of Stardew Valley.

Because like I predicted… It has me hooked. Hard.

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new Awakening children! Hopefully the upcoming banners don’t completely overshadow them.

Six years of progress

Six years of progress

Here’s a fun fact for all of you computer enthusiasts:

I’ve been using the same MacBook Air for everything since late high school. A MacBook Air that I inherited from my Dad.

That he got in 2010.

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Yikes

Needless to say I’ve been in the market for an upgrade. That laptop may have served me well, but it was getting long in the tooth. Slow processing to the point of freezing, difficulty running complex programs and video games… You name it.

When I graduated, my parents asked what kind of gift they could get me to celebrate. I asked if I could get a new laptop, something to benefit my workflow as I transition out of academia.

Dad managed to snag this 2016 MacBook Air that was coming out of circulation at work:

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2016 may seem outdated for a lot of you that prefer to keep on the razor’s edge of technology, but for me it’s a ridiculous leap forward.

Writing and uploading the photos for this blog post has been the smoothest process in three years, for instance.

The background image changes depending on the time of day.

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That appeases me in a deep-rooted, giggly kind of way. Like jangling keys in front of a baby.

And I have at least five times the storage space on this machine:

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I don’t know how I’ll ever fill 500 Gigabytes.

While I’ve only been using the new laptop for about eight hours or so, it has more than justified itself. Which is good considering how much of a pain it was to set the damn thing up.

Dad and I tried to directly transfer all of the information from my old machine to the new one, that way I wouldn’t lose files or progress on anything going on.

We started up the transfer when I went to work with him yesterday, as I would be joining him later that night for poker at his friend Don’s house.

You can see my whole Twitter thread on that experience here because…

It was special.

There were a good six or so hours spent at his office in Beverly Hills before we went to poker, and we set up the computers early hoping to finish before leaving.

Nothing really panned out the way we expected.

Some combination of not cleaning the old machine’s data enough, the hubris of assuming we could have both laptops connect to my iPhone’s wifi hotspot or who knows what else led to an extended transfer time.

We spent a whole lot of time watching the time estimate fluctuate between 20 minutes and 37 hours.

As a result I wasn’t able to spend any of the time at Fandango doing things on my computer, such as work on my novel. Plus my phone was less useful than usual because I couldn’t wear headphones when we plugged it in.

Luckily I brought my 3DS (because I’m still playing Sacred Stones), but that eventually ran out of battery.

The transfer wound up taking so long that we carried both computers out of the building while they were still open, and I looked like a nut during our drive with two laptops open while I played on my phone.

I only had to moonlight as a technophile hacker for a bit of the drive before the process finished, luckily enough.

Because of poker I couldn’t play around with the machine until this morning.

But now that I have, I think it’s time to use the improved processing power to finally make good on returning to a few things from my youth.

Starting with a little browser-based game called:

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Hopefully tomorrow, assuming I don’t get too caught up playing this game I just bought with my friend Sam.

But that too will be a story for another day.

Alumni business

Alumni business

While a lot of this happened yesterday, I spent extra time throwing things together for a more fleshed out blog post now.

Just after Graduation a few weeks ago, I joined the Cal State Fullerton Alumni Association.

See? Tweeted and everything to prove it.

After a good amount of time spent resting, helping with the RUHS Band’s Silent Auction and dealing with car troubles, I finally drove back to Fullerton so I could pick up the swag that comes with my membership:

  • One big Alumni tote bag
  • One sleek and silver CSUF keychain
  • One AAA membership discount coupon that I don’t really need because my family is already a long-time member
  • One Alumni Association membership card that allows me to still use on-campus services, attend different events and receive discounts
  • A collection of partially-expired vouchers with offers including more discounts and one-day parking permits
  • And finally, one fancy license plate cover:
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Edited to be social media friendly.

Part of me feels that it’s perhaps cheesy to lean into the “I’m an alum!” mentality so hard on a public-facing medium like license plates…

But at the same time I put in four years of hard work and walked off that campus with a bunch of accolades.

So I think I’m allowed to be a little cheesy.

Plus this is the first time I’ve replaced that cover since purchasing the car at least four years ago and it was kind of falling apart. Who would’ve guessed this oddball collection of gifts would already be coming in handy?

It’s just too bad I didn’t have the free parking vouchers before getting to campus yesterday, as it turns out my last parking permit expired at the end of May.

Though that expiration does offer me the chance to show off a now-complete collection of permits:

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Some of my CSUF friends will yell at me for wasting so much money…

But hey, at least I got all of these permits in before the upcoming price hike, and they makes for a cool physical manifestation of my invested time.

Even with that El Camino College permit breaking up the uniformity.

Going to Cal State Fullerton was interesting beyond just noticing my permit expiration, however. In my four years at CSUF, three of which included work on the school newspaper, I somehow never made it to the Golleher Alumni House.

I did pass by this side of the building because of its proximity to the police station and Titan Student Union:

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But imagine my surprise when it turns out that large gate wasn’t the main entrance.

Rather, I had to circle around to this entrance I’d never seen before.

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You can see the State College parking structure in the background.

Once I found my way to the entrance, there isn’t much to say about actually picking up the Alumni swag.

Luckily I anticipated that.

Part of my afternoon was devoted to writing that Pokémon Sword and Shield Direct post, but I also arranged lunch with my friend Mimi at one of her favorite restaurants in Downtown Fullerton:

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Monkey Business Cafe is a place I’ve heard many things about through publications like Tusk because of their focus on helping homeless or foster youth who may not have the opportunity to get job experience anywhere else.

I’d just never made the time to go there for whatever reason.

But now I have, and I made their burger a litmus test for how good the food is:

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Because I love me some burgers.

It was… Okay. Not a particularly special meal.

Though to be fair Mimi got waffles and those looked really good, so perhaps the joint shines more on the breakfast side of its brunch offerings.

Either way I had a good time and the meal was decently cheap. I can’t complain.

My thoughts on the June 5, 2019 Pokémon Direct

My thoughts on the June 5, 2019 Pokémon Direct

Is there anything better than waking up to Pokémon trending all over Twitter?

Especially when the series is trending because of some brand new Sword and Shield information dropped in this morning’s Pokémon Direct!

There’s a bunch to talk about, good and possibly not-as-good, so let’s jump right into what stands out the most.


The Galar Region and the Wild Area

Over the years, I’ve learned that my favorite thing about Pokémon is the world each region helps to create. A world that’s similar to ours but flourishing with fantastical elements on account of the creatures roaming through it.

Unova, Kalos and Alola made this especially apparent as Game Freak experimented with landmarks and traditions from places outside of Japan to great effect.

For all its faults, I have to commend Alola for its Hawaii/pacific island setting. Gen 7’s theme song was a perfect tone setter.

The theme song for the UK-based Galar Region heard in this and the last Direct is a bit more generic, but aesthetically the world looks like series of a watercolor paintings on the graphically superior Nintendo Switch.

The trainer models also look far better than the flat-faced happy trainers in Alola, and fist bumping Scorbunny helped me settle on my starter.

Hands down the best thing we learned about the Galar Region today is the existence of the “Wild Area.”

The Wild Area is ostensively a Breath of the Wild-esque open world that connects towns with free-roaming movement and camera controls. It also has overworld wild Pokémon like Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee who change via environment and time of day.

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

Also it has local multiplayer roaming elements. Need I say more?

Luckily Galar’s human inhabitants don’t seem too bad either.

 

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

Professor Magnolia is an obvious Queen Elizabeth reference and the first female Professor since Juniper, while her Granddaughter Sonia…

Already has a lot of smut drawn of her.

Because she’s really cute and that’s how the internet does.

 

Images courtesy of Serebii.net

Meanwhile Hop is our generic rival/friend-type who has a name eerily similar to both Hau and Hugh… Because Game Freak loves rivals with ‘H’ names apparently.

His older brother is Leon, the region champion and person Hop wants to defeat.

Personally I think the gameplay themes of Pokémon could have been utilized better if Leon was your character’s brother that you aspire to beat. But early revealing a beloved, undefeated champion with links to other major characters possibly sets up a fun secret villain twist.

Or maybe he’ll be Henry VII like I said earlier:


New Pokémon

That’s enough about boring people. In today’s Direct we got to meet new Pokémon.

Glossifleur and Eldegoss

 

Images courtesy of serebii.net

The signature line of Galar’s gym leader Milo, Glossifleur and Eldegoss are cute in their own right.

I’m not enamored with them necessarily, but the fact that they have Regenerator as an ability means we can probably expect to see a little meta action out of them if their stats are decent.

Wooloo

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

He’s a fluffy sheep and he rolls around like Sonic.

Not sure I need to say anything else about this beloved Normal-type.

Corviknight

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

Corviknight is easily the big winner of today’s Direct.

This super rad armored raven is a killer Steel/Flying-type that puts Skarmory to shame and has the hilarious role of being intertown fast travel.

I’d let this boy caw in my face and fly me to a new place in a heartbeat.

Drednaw

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of Drednaw.

It’s typing and abilities are decent, but something about the design is a little too… Rough around the edges for me.

Four out of five ain’t bad.

All of the new and returning Pokémon will interact with the world, either free in the Wild Area or playing hopscotch with NPCs like we see a Wynaut in the trailer.

I can’t emphasize how much I love that aspect of these games.

However, there are two Pokémon that astute viewers will notice I’ve missed. Unfortunately they comprise the first negative thing I have to say.


The Legendaries

 

Images courtesy of serebii.net

Meet Zacian and Zamazenta, the Legendary Pokémon of Galar.

Zacian is a good boy who runs around with a sword in his mouth and I love him.

Zamazenta is literally the exact same Pokémon but carrying a different weapon.

Whose decision was it to make the Legendary Pokémon so similar? I could see there being lore about the same Pokémon with different held items, but Cosmog kind of just did that idea. And Solgaleo/Lunala at least weren’t a bland duo.

Maybe they would have worked in a Rome-themed Region playing off of Romulus and Remus. But as it stands I’m ambivalent at best.


Dynamax

Pokémon changes mechanics frequently to keep things fresh.

Up to Gen 4’s physical/special move split, most of those changes were integral to underlying battle mechanisms that evolved the games.

Mega Evolution in Gen 6 was arguably the first “spectacle” battle mechanic — if you don’t count Chatot in Gen 4 or the sometimes still relevant Triple Battles.

Megas were a selling point by all accounts, something unique to Kalos. But it was a tastefully handled gimmick that gave old favorites new potential and meshed well with series’ themes of bonding with Pokémon. It remains popular.

Much less tastefully handled was Gen 7’s Z-Moves that provided a once-per-battle super attack which was only interesting when tied to a handful of unique Pokémon.

They were situational and not nearly as well conceived.

Now we have Dynamaxing: A similar limited-per-battle gimmick that turns Pokémon giant and essentially gives them a full set of Z-Moves for three turns.

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Image courtesy of serebii.net

I like some aspects of the Dynamax system, but overall I believe it could do more harm than good.

In the Wild Area, local co-op allows trainers to take on Dynamax Pokémon together.

This is cool, but I hope co-op isn’t limited to it. The main selling point of Dynamax Raids is encountering Pokémon you can’t find otherwise, but you’ll need a little more to impress a 22-year-old Pokémon scholar who already owns every creature.

They also appear to be giving every gym leader the ability to Dynamax, and I love the idea of making tougher challenges with unique mechanics. Like how Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire used Mega Evolution in its Pokémon League.

But Kaiju Pokémon are more restrictive than Megas design-wise.

Every gym in Galar will be a soccer stadium with an open ceiling for these Dynamax transformations. The developers use this to emphasize an idea of battling as spectator sport in Galar, but uniform gyms remove the uniqueness of a palace designed by its inhabitants from earlier games.

Part of why I love Black and White 2 is because every gym was unique down to the remix of the same theme for each building. That was awesome, and we might lose that uniqueness because of Dynamaxing.


And that, ladies and mentlegen, is today’s Sword and Shield info dump.

I might not be super impressed with Dynamax or the game’s Legendaries, but I’m still incredible stoked for new Pokémon games.

And I’m stoked to talk about about the build-up to them!

This post didn’t even touch on enhancements to Sun and Moon’s RotomDex, or my fan theory that the train system in Galar looks incredible similar to the unused train station of Couriway Town in Kalos.

Let me know all your thoughts about Pokémon Sword and Shield somewhere on the Internet, because lord knows I’ll be thinking of nothing else for the next week!

She’s Mythic and divine

She’s Mythic and divine

In Fire Emblem, some of Humanity’s greatest heroes wield a legendary weapon known as the Falchion that is imbued with the power to cut through dark forces and the dragons who often wreck havoc.

Alm, the Saint-King of Valentia, bore Falchion when he struck down a being of pure chaotic power.

Marth, the Hero-King of Archanea, bore another version when he saved the realm from a wizard who hoped to abuse the strength of the Divine Dragons.

Ylissian Exalt Chrom took his ancestor Marth’s blade to fight the Fell Dragon Grima, and Chrom’s daughter Lucina brought a Parallel Falchion back from her doomed future to help change fate.

Those descendants of the Hero-King were marked with a Brand of the Exalt to show the holy bloodline they inherited from Naga: King of the Divine Dragons who created those legendary blades in her ultimate benevolence toward humans.

Despite lacking the power to create, many consider Naga the world’s creation deity.


Naga: Dragon Divinity


Naga’s history in Fire Emblem lore ties back to one idea: Killing malevolent dragons.

Her skill set as the first Astra Mythic Hero in Fire Emblem Heroes reflects this idea perfectly.

She flies in (reminiscent of her appearance in Fire Emblem Awakening) and grants every adjacent ally effectiveness against dragon foes. For each ally with that descriptor she receives a boost to all of her stats.

That’s her entire gimmick. It’s an interesting and likely effective one, but narrowly focused toward players who actively seek competitive online matches.

Though to be fair her A Skill refers specifically to Aether Raids, so she’s obviously meant to appear in online modes of battle.

I happen to not be very focused on the Player-versus-Player aspects of Heroes, so Naga is more interesting to me on account of her lore than her battle prowess.

Yet she comes with a good enough entourage — particularly on blue stones — for me to like her banner quite a bit:

Every stone on this banner is decent for me except colorless, where I’m only missing Velouria.

Out of the rest I only had Eirika, Hector and Lyn before summoning. Blue was the most exciting between Naga and that Legendary Tiki who has eluded me for months, but I wouldn’t have been upset with too many of the summons here.

Luckily I wound up getting a great case scenario using the orbs I’ve saved up over a few banners.

I didn’t get Naga, but I got these two:

Tiki is worthwhile by herself, especially given her +Atk nature. I don’t feel particularly compelled to spend any more time on this banner as a result.

Though if I did feel compelled, at least there are a few more orbs to nab off of this Mythic Battle Map:

Fighting her on Grima’s back in the reverse position of Legendary Grima’s battle map is a nice touch Intelligent Systems.

A very nice touch.


All-and-all this is a pretty great Mythic Banner. An interesting main hero, a solid collection surrounding her and not many orbs spent.

Though in my opinion it’s hilarious to think about how Naga was put in the game now when there are still hundreds of characters to power creep her in the future.

Just imagine some low-level hero completely outclassing the Divine Dragon King.

Thus is the curse of a gatcha game, I suppose. It’ll be interesting to see how Game Freak handles a presumably similar concept with Pokémon Masters announced for later this year.

But that’s a series of blog posts for another day.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about Mythic Naga! I can only imagine Mila will be our next character in this category, but recently playing Sacred Stones again makes me want that game’s Demon King too. We’ll have to see where it goes.

Tribute to well-worn clothing

Tribute to well-worn clothing

I wound up lingering around the house today in lieu of some planned activities because of unexpected car troubles.

Instead I did some chores around the house.

Mainly blowing through this mountain of laundry I’ve avoided for too long.

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While doing so I had to confront that age-old question of what you do when something you’ve worn for a long time is pretty much beyond repair.

That white shirt I featured up above has been one of my pajama shirts since 2014.

I can tell you that specifically because it was a promotional gift I got at a baseball game in San Diego with a bunch of my old High Tide coworkers.

The game (and I couldn’t say what game it was because I was terrible about using Facebook — he said as though he’s any better now) was played up as an event to coincide with the Journalism Education Association conference happening that week.

We were in the city for that conference’s write-off competition, where I happened to win this award that’s still hanging up in my room:

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Good times.

Somehow that shirt continued to be huge on me for the next five years, but it has served me well in the realm of Dream Land.

Until about two weeks ago.

A small hole in the seam just underneath the shirt’s armpit tore far wider than I could have anticipated. Not just along the seam, but inward toward my sternum. My family leveed some complaints but I mostly dissuaded them under the conviction that it shouldn’t matter for something I’m just sleeping in.

Now that I’ve had time to mull it over, however… The shirt is not the most flattering thing in its current condition. Pulling it out of that pile of clothes really hit home.

So that means it’s about time I got rid of it.

By all accounts it’s just a shirt, and the objective part of me has no problem tossing it aside.

Yet I think it’s worth taking a moment to archive the story behind the shirt. Because it may just be sewn-up pieces of fabric, but it’s sewn-up pieces of fabric with a backstory that I recall with a certain amount of fondness and nostalgia.

If you can really consider five years a truly ‘nostalgic’ period.

Hopefully writing up this little account can give all of you at home the chance to reflect on some fond memories toward your possessions as well. Because if you ask me, it’s important to remember that it isn’t really the goods that make us happy.

It’s the tales behind them that do.

So if you have any good memories you want to keep alive about innocuous goods, let me know. I think it’d be a fun little conversation to start.

Statistically surpassing 2017

Statistically surpassing 2017

About three days ago, the amount of views my blog has accrued this year surpassed the total from 2017.

With a lead-in sentence like that I’m sure you’re expecting this post to be an exercise in prideful self-fellatio.

To an extent I suppose it is, but part of the reason why it’s cool is because of interesting insights I believe I can pull out of the analytics. As I tend to look at.

For instance, here are the yearly statistics as of my writing this:

Screen Shot 2019-05-28 at 3.54.31 PMScreen Shot 2019-05-28 at 3.54.10 PM

The bar graph shows an overall trend toward increasing views, and that’s sensible considering my blog has evolved from a class requirement to a digital resume and regular part of my writing life.

In 2018 the number of views jumped sizably compared to the growth from 2016 to 2017 due to my Summer Initiative and its aftermath.

Last summer was when I shifted the emphasis of my blog from writing a few times a month (mostly archiving stories) to writing nearly every day.

The jump from 1,944 to 4,210 views makes sense when audiences have a higher volume of content to consume on an almost daily schedule.

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Notice the shift around June 2018.

And that was when I only wrote daily for half the year.

This year I’m halfway to that number and we’re only at the end of May, which bodes well for further growth. Especially if I get a few more breakout posts like my Redondo Union Archives write-up:

Post uploaded on March 25, 2019

I may be on-track to surpass 2018 in views, but other aspects are faltering.

“Likes” is one statistic I have trouble explaining due to the lack of a noticeable tracker on WordPress. I can tell you that I received 129 likes on my posts in 2018 compared to the paltry seven in 2019 so far, but I can’t tell you why that might be.

However, I can say something about the trend in daily views and viewers.

As you can see in the 2017 v. 2019 analytics, I surpassed my views from two years ago with about 30 fewer individual visitors.

I’ve also noticed a pattern of more views-per-day recently in spite of less visitors coming overall. I used to see about six or seven views at most every day, but recently it has hovered closer to 20:

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Even yesterday, where I was so busy with family Memorial Day barbecuing and playing Minecraft with my friends that I didn’t write a blog post, my site received 33 views.

The last time I hit views near that high was April 24, when I wrote about my collection of graduation gowns.

If nothing else, I hope this post can be a positive affirmation for you regular viewers that people notice when you put extra energy into something. Even when that something is as silly as a personal blog.

I find the analytics fascinating to sort through so I hope you found them just as interesting to consume!

But if you didn’t, how about you take a look at this views-per-country breakdown:

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Because the map is always a fun thing to see in my opinion.


Featured Image courtesy of Carlos Muza via Wikimedia Commons